In This Review

From the Boer War to the Cold War: Essays on Twentieth-Century Europe
From the Boer War to the Cold War: Essays on Twentieth-Century Europe
By A. J. P. Taylor
Penguin, 1995, 454 pp

This collection of approximately 70 essays of varying lengths, including many book reviews and talks for the BBC, is a dazzling display of Taylor's knack for incisive, witty, and opinionated analysis and his passion for understanding the motives and foibles of statesmen. There are fine, sympathetic treatments of Trotsky and Roger Casement, excellent character sketches of Balfour, Lloyd George, Baldwin, Bevin, and (above all) Churchill, and a disturbing lecture on British domestic politics during the First World War. Hitler is described as having "had a depth and elaboration of evil all his own, as though something primitive had emerged from the bowels of the earth." Taylor emerges from this collection as a generous reviewer and a farsighted commentator: in 1966 he wrote that "Communists would like to be all the wicked things their opponents say they are. They would like to be subversive, unscrupulous, and ruthless. In fact, they are only unsuccessful."